Perhaps you know the great author Paulo Coelho from Brazil. He wrote the international bestseller, The Alchemist. Recently I was reading a collection of short stories by Coelho, Like The Flowing River. One of the many stories in this book that touched me was How to Climb a Mountain.
The same principles in that story can apply to the Boston Celtics of 2007-08, I realised. So, without further deliberation, here is the ...a stern warning interpretation of How to Climb a Mountain – Boston Celtics Edition.
Choose the mountain you want to climb
After several dry years, the Celtics craved NBA title success again. The fans of Boston have seen many titles over the years and accept no less than the best as a measure of a team. So management of the team in green set the mountain they had to climb as the NBA title. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were complicit in this aim.
Find out how to reach the mountain
Years of suffering and hard work by the Celtics' new Big Three had taught them exactly what was needed to reach that mountain – the NBA title. They knew that to win they had to give up any personal accolades, in favour of a greater team goal.
Learn from someone who has been there before
In order to climb a mountain, you need to get advice from someone who has mastered that achievement in the past. The Celtics realised this and brought in the help of previous title winners in James Posey and Sam Cassell, to add that winning touch to their array of talent in the leadership group. Not stopping at that, Kevin Garnett also took on the personal tutelage of perhaps the greatest mountain climber of all time, Bill Russell.
Dangers, seen from close to, are controllable
When you are climbing the mountain of your dreams, look out for imperceptible cracks and things that may trip you up. If you keep out an eye for potential problems as they approach you, you will reach your goal without issue. The Celtics achieved this through the guidance of Doc Rivers and through the veteran presence of the Big Three, who had experienced plenty of media scrutiny in their time. They did not allow the media or fan expectations to hinder their reaching the top of the mountain.
The landscape changes, so make the most of it
On the way up the mountain, you must never forget your objective – to reach the top. However, you should also enjoy the view on the way up, as you may otherwise miss things that you have never seen before. The Celtics had an unbelievable regular season, punctuated by a successful run through the playoffs. It was a special group that was put together and you could tell that they were enjoying themselves on the way up the mountain.
Respect your body
If you want to get to the top of that mountain, you must treat your body like the temple that it must be in order to make that climb. Nobody in the NBA exhibits that dedication to one's body better than KG. His single-minded resolve to win surely rubbed off on that Celtics team.
Respect your soul
Whilst perhaps no coach has ever exceeded Finals opponent Phil Jackson's ability to enter the soul of his players, Doc Rivers certainly did an admirable job of moulding this group of newly connected stars into a cohesive group that went all the way.
Be prepared to go the extra mile
At the beginning of the off-season, this Celtics team was group of young, exuberant also-rans. Danny Ainge was not prepared to settle for mediocrity and acquired not just one, but two superstars to add to the group – in short, he went that extra mile to climb that mountain.
Be joyful when you reach the top
There was no shortage of celebrations in Boston upon the Celtics' title win, which coincided nicely with a year of victories in the greater Boston area. All you had to do was look at the joy and relief on KG's face when it was all over to know, this team were indeed joyful about their achievement after waiting so long to get to the top of that mountain.
Make a promise
The Celtics have not (to my knowledge) made one of those tired public guarantees of a repeat title, but you can bet that they are all dedicating themselves internally to doing it all again. After all, the most important promises are the ones you make to yourself.
Tell your story
This is where all of you have come into play as team members of the Celtics. All of the great bloggers from CelticsBlog to Red's Army to Loy's Place to Green Bandwagon have done a fantastic job of proclaiming the success of the C's in this wonderful run they have had. Even in the lean years, the Celtics have always enjoyed one of the strongest armies of bloggers. Success breeds success.
Credit inspiration for this post: Like the Flowing River, Paulo Coelho, Harper (2005) pp 12-15.
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